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Wife of Daikin chemical exposure victim speaks out

“It’s important not only for them, but that Daikin gets a message that people have to stop dying and getting injured out there because of their negligence,”
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 7:45 PM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - WAFF is continuing to dig into allegations of unsafe work conditions at the Daikin America plant in Decatur. Mary Lewis believes chemical exposure at the plant led to her husband’s death.

In 2019, 43-year-old Peter Lewis was working at Daikin as a contractor for a company called Total Safety. Mary says Peter came out of work one night with trouble breathing and went to the hospital the next morning.

“I asked him if there was any chemicals involved and he didn’t think that there was because they told him no PPE was needed,” said Mary.

Lewis spent nine weeks in Decatur-Morgan hospital and never made it out. He died in December 2019. In their blended family, Mary and Peter Lewis have seven children.

“I’ve had a couple of them that’s had to see therapists. Including myself,” said Mary.

Mary says her whole world was ripped away. Lewis was working with Darby Dockery, a contractor for Contract Service & Fabrication. Dockery is suing Daikin over the same chemical exposure. She’ll be on an oxygen tank the rest of her life, and has been told she only has a few years left to live.

Attorney Randy Ferguson is representing Darby Dockery and the estate of Peter Lewis.

“The facts I think, when they come out, will be shocking to a jury,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson says the incident was not immediately reported to OSHA, and Daikin originally denied the incident even happened.

“The whole thing is ‘We don’t want OSHA to know, we don’t want it to cost us money,’ and so they have these people at risk. These are subcontractors who don’t work for Daikin who come in there to do a job, and its a dangerous job. Daikin’s like ‘Well they’re not our employees,’ they don’t care,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson says Dockery and Lewis never found out what they were exposed to.

“The worst thing is while both of these people were in the hospital, hospital personnel called Daikin to find out what the chemicals were and Daikin wouldn’t tell them anything,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson says the evidence in Dockery and Lewis’ case show that the chemical exposure was Daikin’s mistake and their pipes had not been properly flushed.

“It’s important not only for them but that Daikin gets a message that people have to stop dying and getting injured out there because of their negligence,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson Dockery’s case is expected to go to trial in the Spring and the lawsuit for the estate of Peter Lewis will be filed in the coming weeks.

“We think a jury would punish them severely for their conduct and how reckless they are,” said Ferguson.

WAFF has reached out to all attorneys representing Daikin and the contractors involved and has not heard back. Ferguson says he is also filing suit for another man injured from the same 2019 incident.

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